Two Spanish Dominicans to be Beatified

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Spanish Saints
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Among the faithful followers of Christ on the path of the profession of the evangelical counsels in the Dominican Order who suffered persecution and gave their lives rather than deny Christ are two Spanish priests; Raimundo Joaquìn Gonzàlez Castano,OP and José Marìa Gonzàlez Solìs,OP. In the midst of religious persecution in Spain between the years 1936-1939, they accepted torture, harassment, humiliation and even death for their faith. They defended their faith and proclaimed it openly before their executioners. They turned the place of imprisonment to a field for apostolate, an apostolate exercised tirelessly and with serenity to the other detainees. United in the same Christian vocation as religious and priests, they comforted each other until they received the crown of martyrdom.

RAIMUNDO JOAQUÍN GONZÁLEZ CASTAÑO

He was born on August 20, 1865 in the Onon district, the town of Mieres, Asturias (Spain) and was baptized on the same day, right after his birth. From childhood, he showed signs of great talent and devotion. The nurturing started at a school in the city of Oviedo. He entered the diocesan seminary and completed his studies in the Humanities. He later sought for admission into the Dominican novitiate in Corias which is in the same region of Asturias. After his novitiate, he made his religious profession on November 5, 1881. He studies philosophy and theology and was ordained to the priesthood at about 1889. Documents concerning his ordination were lost during the persecution, therefore we do not know the exact date of his ordination.

For further studies, he was sent to a school at San Jose Vergara (Guipùzcoa) where he was trained in youth education. He was then assigned to Palencia to be devoted to preaching, a calling he felt very much at home with. After the restoration of the Province of Andalusia, he joined the province in 1897 and he was sent to the formation community at Almagro (Ciudad Real). As at 1900, he was already a lecturer and this enabled him to teach in the study centers of the Order. In 1902, he was assigned to the convent at Cuevas de Almeria. On behalf of the Provincial, he received the church of San Agustin de Còrdoba in 1903 and in 1905 he went to Almeria. In 1907, he was prior of the convent of Jerez de la Frontera and in the same year, he was appointed Vice Regent of Studies at Almagro and he began to teach theology – Scripture and Church History in particular.

For the restoration of the Province of Portugal, he was sent to Viana do Castello in 1910 with two other brothers. However, he returned to his home Spanish province and to the shrine of Our Lady of the Caldas de Besaya (Santander). From 1915, he was part of the community of San Pablo Valladolid and was there until he was elected the prior of the community of San Pablo de Palencia in 1922. In that same year, he was awarded the title of Preacher General. In 1927, he lived in the convent of Our Lady of Atocha in Madrid and in the following year became the vicar of St. Catherine’s monastery, Calle Meson de Paredes in Madrid. In 1930, he was in the convent of St Dominic de Oviedo and was appointed vicar of the Dominican nuns at Quejana (Alava) where he met Fr Jose Maria Gonzalez Solis. He was there until his arrest.

His ministry, often devoted to priests came from a life prayer, study, regular life and penance. He was a devoted spiritual director and many came to him from all walks of life for spiritual direction. He was kind and gentle with people, optimistic, cheerful, very devoted to the Eucharist, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He published a handbook of sacred oratory, sermons and a biography of St Dominic. He also translated and published in Madrid the complete works of the French Dominican, Henri Dominique Lacordaire. He was a tireless worker who spoke less and prayed more.

JOSE MARIA GONZALEZ SOLIS

He was born on January 15, 1877 in Santibanez de Murias (Aller - Asturias) and baptized the same day in the parish church of Santa Maria. He entered the Dominican novitiate at Corias (Asturias) on January 2, 1893, and made his religious profession on January 3 following year. He was ordained to the priesthood in the church of San Esteban de Salamanca on March 10, 1900.

After his ordination, he was assigned to the college of San José de Vergara (Guipúzcoa) where he taught ​​mathematics for ten years. In 1911 he was at the shrine of Montesclaros (Santander) and in 1912 was chaplain of the Dominican nuns of San Sebastian. From 1913 he returned to teaching at the Dominican College of Segovia until 1920 when he was elected prior of the Census (La Coruna). In 1923 he was assigned to the convent of San Pablo de Valladolid where he was also professor.

In April 1925 he was elected prior of San Esteban de Salamanca. At the Provincial Chapter of 1926, he was appointed treasurer of the province and resided in Madrid. He remained in this office until the end of his days. He was at the convent of the nuns of Santa Catalina at Meson de Paredes street and usually in the convent of Santo Domingo, Claudio Coello where he was superior. Finally, he was at Our Lady of Atocha in the capital of Spain, where he was assigned at the time of his death. He lived his consecrated life with great intensity, was orderly in his work and prayer life and prepared and celebrated the Holy Eucharist with great devotion.

On July 1, 1936, he came to the convent of the Dominican nuns of Quejana, where fr Raimundo Castano was ministering to assist him while he was sick and also to preach a retreat to the nuns. They lived together in the community until August 25 when they were arrested and subsequently imprisoned at Bilbao. They were later led to the prison ship, “Cape Karat” anchored on the bay of Bilbao, between Baracaldo and Erandio. There, they were continuously tortured, humiliated and ridiculed. On the night October 2 to 3, they were brought to the deck of the ship and shot. They were buried in the municipal cemetery of Santruce and on November 18, 1938, they were transferred to the Shrine of Vista Alegre in Derio where they are resting till the resurrection.

From the moment of their death, these two Servants of God were taken as martyrs of the faith. Their fame continued to grow and this was confirmed over the years as we received more information about their lives. Some of these information were provided by people who shared the prison with them. This led the Bishop of Bilbao in 1960 to inaugurate a survey of their lives for possible beatification or declaration as martyrs. The survey was concluded in 1961. On October 10, 1997, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognized the legal validity of this process. It issued the Positio which was discussed at various levels according to custom. On May 10 2012, at an audience granted to the Cardinal Angelo Amato (the Prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints), the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI authorized the Congregation to accordingly promulgate the decree of the martyrdom of the two Servants of God, which makes them Blessed. Thus we await the date for their beatification.

 

Fr. Vito Tomàs Gòmez Garcìa, OP (Postulator General of the Order)